The New York Mets have enhanced their 40-man roster depth since the end of September. Some of these signings have been guaranteed contracts with the player expected to contribute on opening day, such as Harrison Bader or Joey Wendle. Some have been claimed off waivers just to take a chance on, such as Tyler Heineman or Cooper Hummel. Others have been signed to minor league contracts just to provide further depth such as Kyle Crick or Jose Iglesias.
David Stearns has been strategic in the players he kept on the 40-man roster and the few that he non-tendered or released from their contracts. This would include players out of options such as Luis Guillorme or players that did not earn a pay raise such as Jeff Brigham. However, the 2024 Mets will still rely on younger players from 2023 who are further down the 40-man depth chart to contribute. In particular, relief pitchers figure to see the most time on this ‘taxi squad’ back and forth from Syracuse. With this in mind, which players did Stearns keep on this short list and can build from their experience from last season?
1. Grant Hartwig
The Mets have had a solid track record of undrafted free agents becoming valuable players to the organization. Most notable was T.J. Rivera’s hot stretch between 2016 and 2017. Grant Hartwig will have an opportunity to help stabilize the Mets’ bullpen in 2024. The Detroit, Michigan native went undrafted in 2021 and was signed by Zack Scott for just $20,000.
Hartwig debuted for the Mets in June of last season and pitched well through the all-star break, allowing just one run in 11.1 innings. His performance impressed Buck Showalter enough to use him in higher-leverage situations following the trade of David Robertson. However, Hartwig struggled in this role having a 7.03 ERA in 24 innings pitched between August and September. His most staggering statistic is his home and road splits, having an 8.66 ERA at Citi Field and a 1.50 ERA everywhere else.
Hartwig will be relied upon for more innings this season given the remaining question marks surrounding the bullpen. He did pitch well upon his call-up last season, showing his fastball and slider combination does play against major league talent. Showalter related Hartwig’s struggles down the stretch to arm fatigue given his usage without Edwin Diaz or Robertson in the bullpen. He seemed to have pitched better when used in a multi-inning role, leading one to believe he could become the 2018 Robert Gsellman should Carlos Mendoza utilize him correctly.